Jim Telfer

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Jim Telfer
Birth name James Telfer
Date of birth (1940-03-17) 17 March 1940 (age 78)
Place of birth Melrose, Scotland
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 94 kg (14 st 11 lb; 207 lb)[1]
University Moray House School of Education
Occupation(s) Retired
Rugby union career
Position(s) Number eight
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Melrose RFC
South of Scotland
Correct as of 24 July 2007
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British Lions
Correct as of 1 March 2009
Teams coached
Years Team
British Lions

James Telfer (born 17 March 1940) is a Scottish rugby union coach and a former rugby player. As a player, he gained 21 international caps in the amateur era, also having a career as a headmaster at Hawick High School and Galashiels Academy as a chemistry teacher. He won fame as a Scottish forwards coach who gave punishing training sessions to his players. With Sir Ian McGeechan he has had success with both the Scotland national rugby union team and the British and Irish Lions.

Playing career

Telfer worked as a chemistry teacher.[2] His first cap came against France at Murrayfield on 4 March 1964.[3] His last match for Scotland was on 28 February 1970 at Lansdowne Road against Ireland.[4]

Telfer gained twenty one caps for Scotland, and, but for injury, might have gained more. Allan Massie writes of him:

"Telfer is a man of innate authority. (There's a wealth of quiet reserve and self-knowledge, touched by that form of self-mockery which appears as under-statement, in the way he will describe himself as being a 'dominant personality')"[5]

Telfer played back row for Scotland and for the Lions in 1966 and 1968. He was impressed and heavily influenced by New Zealand rugby.[5] Unfortunately, after a cartilage operation he slowed up.[5] He played 23 games for the British and Irish Lions on their 1966 tour to Australia and New Zealand[6] and 11 games on their 1968 tour to South Africa.[7]

Between 1963 and 1967, he played 8 times for the Barbarians FC, scoring six points.[8]

George Crerar said of Telfer "The great thing about Jim Telfer is that he makes sure that if he isn't going to win the ball the other side won't get it either."[9]


He was head coach to the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand in 1983. He was assistant coach, with particular responsibility for the forwards, on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 1997.

Telfer coached Scotland to the Grand Slam in 1984 and, as assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan, to his second Grand Slam in 1990. In his second term as head coach from 1998–1999, Scotland won the final Five Nations Championship.

He currently manages and coaches the Melrose RFC Under-18 team - Melrose Wasps.


  1. ^ http://www.lionsrugby.com/history/legends/noel_muprhy.php
  2. ^ "Rugby Positions: No 8s: Jim Telfer". Rugby World. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  3. ^ Downie, John (6 January 1964). "Scots open season with victory". The Glasgow Herald. p. 15. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  4. ^ McMurtrie, Bill (2 March 1970). "Scottish revival not enough to atone for earlier blunders". The Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Massie, p189
  6. ^ "Player archive: Jim Teller". British and Irish Lions. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Player archive: Jim Teller". British and Irish Lions. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Player Archive - J. W. Telfer". Barbarians FC. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  9. ^ Massie, p190


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)
  • Telfer, Jim Jim Telfer: Looking Back... For Once (Mainstream Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-84596-062-9)

External links

  • Jim Telfer (The Scotsman)
  • Video Interview with Jim Telfer 3:48 -to- 4:48 on YouTube
Preceded by
Nairn McEwan
Scotland national rugby union team coach
Succeeded by
Colin Telfer
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